I like to think of an older person as an Elder. For me, it speaks to the wisdom of the person and looks to the aging person with a sense of dignity.

 I used to feel like aging yielded a more or less down time and that was not a happy thought. Yes, we slow down as we age, and there are health and pain problems, but aging can also be a positive and productive time in one’s life.  Calling it a culmination in my life versus a time of decline is a first step. Culmination is an act of carrying something to full completion.

Elders need to share their wisdom. People gain more knowledge when they work through an experience. Wisdom results. A seasoned fisherman shares his wisdom when he guides his son to reel in his first large Northern.  When elders share their wisdom, they are making this world a better place.

Processing the past experiences of their lives can be another fruitful undertaking for elders. In our busy lives of dealing with the issues at hand, we most often do not have the time to process what happened. Processing may take the form of enjoying simple reminiscing or one may work through a need to forgive or to grieve a loss.

I learned recently, that at every age, there are latent talents in us, even in our retirement years. Elders may ponder on what those talents are and bring them to life by using them to serve others. Recently, I tried to think of what that might be for myself. The result is that I now enjoy writing these blogs.

Elders may also remember something they had always wanted to do and, if possible, pursue it.

Quiet time reflecting on how God has been guiding us all through our lives deepens our relationship with God. Despite pain and handicaps, a positive outlook on life helps us to   think less about our suffering.  

I sometimes think that these aging years remind us that we are not here to stay. When we accept our aging years and reflect on God’s great love for us, we can look forward to the day when we will be with the God who loves us so much! 

Janet Thielges, OSB